Monday, November 1, 2010

Science Mondays--- wartime measures double the universe

1955 Vogue Magazine Cover Photo by Dana Graves

Cosmic Times jumps from 1929 to 1955, because this happened.

So today I told the story of how blackouts in 1943 LA allowed a view of outer space that indicated there were two types of Cepheid Variables and thus the universe doubled in size.

I spoke of how when the story started Henrietta Leavitt, who was noticing what had to be noticed, was looking at Type 1's.

Shapely would venture into clusters of stars where Type 2's hung out. He would use a bit of parallax data using a nearby Type 1 to start measuring distant stars.

Hubble and Humason (the mule team driver and later telescope master) would venture into galaxies other than our own and see Type 1's and use Shapely's distance formulas.

Then Blaade took advantage of those blackouts, and saw there were two types, he realized Hubble and Humason had used a bad "Yardstick" and now our nearest galaxy neighbor was 1.6 billion light years away. The whole universe had doubled in size.

Read the Science Times Edition

and more fashion of 1955:


  1. 1) That is FASCINATING about the blackouts and the universe-size-discovery.

    2) Those bags are pretty great.

  2. Hey Di

    thanks for the visit. My students seem to be finding the story of astrophysics fascinating to, and it was a student who suggested I click on the handbag video. It was close to one on the death of Einstein.

  3. Love it! Are you teaching Physics or Astronomy this year? or just weaving these fantastic stories in to instruction?

    That's the saddest part for me about this year. I'm running on fumes and barely teaching what I need to cover. There doesn't seem to be time or energy for the cool parts of science which is a big loss for my students. I hate high-stakes testing.

  4. Kathryn--- I am teaching Space & Earth Science and decided to start with space. I do have to connect my lessons to state standards but am not required to teach all of it in a specific sequence by a specific date. It is a bonus of working where I am teaching.


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